Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tips From the Pros

Mostly Mutts is blessed to have scores of volunteers  who generously give of their time to help our organization.  As you can imagine, working with the many dogs and kitties that come our way, we’ve gathered some pretty valuable learning experiences between us all.  So who better to pass along helpful hints to our blogosphere?  Some of these we’ve learned through trial and error, bad experiences, common sense or just because we had to.  What about you?  Do you have a helpful hint you can share?  Be sure to leave it at the bottom of the post in the comments section.  Thanks to all our tireless volunteers, foster parents, adoptive families and staff who took the time to pass along these great ideas!  (below is the opinion of non-professionals)

TOY BOX:  The one thing we can guarantee from that new puppy of yours is that it will chew.  NEVER correct a puppy for chewing…just teach it what he/she is allowed to chew on.  Find a box that can be used as a ‘toy box’ (wicker baskets not recommened J) and then purchase several different types of toys.  Add to this box a ball, a squeaky toy, a rope, a Nylabone type chewy, and several other types of toys.  When you purchase a new toy, always place it in the toy box instead of giving it directly to your dog.  It won’t be long before your dog learns that everything in that box is his/hers!  Pick up each toy before going to bed and they will all be like new the next day.  Or…rotate the toys in the toy box ever few days.  Adult dogs also like to chew, so make sure they have a toy box!  Toys are important in kennels too so leave your dog with a chew toy or a Kong. 

POTTY TRAINING:  Stay on a good routine, keep your dog confined to an area, and leash walk them to a particular area where you want them to potty.  It may take a week or two but the more consistent you are, the more consistent they will be.  Always bring a very special food reward to give to them after they potty.  Save this special reward for potty only and don’t give it to them any other time. 

When it comes to pet food, you do “get what you pay for’.  Feed the best food you can afford and look at the first five ingredients.  The first should be food and the others should be healthy. 
Dogs:   Use a huge water bowl so you don’t have to keep refilling it.  Use a very small food bowl so you don’t overfeed.
Cats:  Plastic bowls may cause "kitty acne."  Typically cats do not like to have their water bowl next to their food bowl.

The number one reason for bad behaviors is a lack of exercise.  For many dogs, a walk is just not enough.  They need to RUN!!   
Wear your dog out with a game of fetch BEFORE you go on your walk.  This is especially important for dogs that pull hard. 
The second reason dogs develop bad behaviors is because they are bored.  Dogs are pack animals and can be destructive if left alone.  They need another dog to play with or their family with them.  Use a doggy day care if your dog does not do well alone while you are working all day.  That will make them very happy (well, at least most dogs). 
Dogs that live in fenced yards may get exercise, but they may still get bored.  WALK your dog a minimum of once a day.
Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarded.  Therefore, focus on your dog’s good behaviors and reward them when they do something you like . 

TREATS:  We don’t recommend pig ears or cow hooves as they may not be pasteurized and there have been reports of dogs getting sick. 
We recommend COMPRESSED bones over RAWHIDE bones (ask the store assistance to show you the difference). 

COLLARS/LEASHES:  Invest in is a good quality 6’ leather or nylon leash.  Retractable leashes are not used for training.  Nylon or leather collars are best. You should never use a choke chain unless you are trained to use one…they are for training only and not to be used as a collar.  TRAIN your dog to not pull when on a leash (sign up for a training class to learn how).  However, if your dog pulls and you must have more control immediately, here are some suggestions.  Prong collars (or pinch collars) may look bad but they offer the most control when walking a dog that pulls.  Halti and Gentle Leaders are great ways to walk a dog that pulls but the dog must get used to the head halter first.  No-pull harnesses are also successful. 

A tablespoon of yogurt will stop ear yeast infections and stop diarrhea due to antibiotics.

Turn on a radio or TV when your pet stays home alone. 

Bathing a dog in Dawn Dish Soap is an effective and inexpensive way to kill fleas.  It is safe for animals and kills fleas on contact.

Prescriptions are available for your pets at Target, Publix, Wal-Mart etc.  From one dog owner:  My dog has congestive heart failure and is on Lasix and Enalapril.  I can get both filled for $12 each (for a 100 for him).  Target periodically runs a coupon that if you bring in a new scrip you get a $10 gift card.  The pills by themselves are a great deal but coupled with the coupon, it’s incredible.

Remove a tick safely by applying a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball.  Cover  the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball  and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the  tick will come out on its own and be stuck  to the cotton ball when you lift it away.


  1. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  2. Just a reminder-most people know, but some first timer dog owners might not. Don't get any soap in the dog's eyes or you can cause problems. Use a damp washcloth and just a dab of soap to wipe the area, then rinse off with a clean washcloth. If the fleas are bad, go to the vet and get a Capstar pill!!!